Parsing the mixed messages regarding health plan costs

Published on August 23, 2014 at 3:01 AM · No Comments

The Huffington Post breaks down the good and bad news surrounding what people may pay next year for coverage in the wake of the health law. Meanwhile, Modern Healthcare takes a look at how the Obama administration decision to let people keep health coverage that didn't comply with the overhaul's standards is impacting premium rates.

Huffington Post: Here's What's Going On With Obamacare Premium Increases
Health insurance premiums are going to skyrocket under Obamacare next year, maybe even double! No, wait -- they're only increasing a little, and less than before Obamacare! No, wait -- they're … decreasing in some places? The crucial question about the second year of enrollment on the Affordable Care Act's health insurance exchanges is: How much will coverage cost? Actual prices won't be available in most states until the exchanges open Nov. 15, or shortly before that, so consumers are left to sort through political spin and preliminary reports that don't make things any clearer. So what's going on? First, most people will pay more for health insurance next year. ... The good news is that available information indicates the doomsayers were wrong, and premiums under President Barack Obama's health care law aren't going through the roof (Young, 8/21).

Modern Healthcare: People Keeping Noncompliant Plans; Rate Impact Varies By State
When the Obama administration in November 2013 decided to allow states to decide if individuals could keep noncompliant insurance plans, speculation began about what effect that decision would have on premiums and enrollment for plans that did comply with provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Subsequently, the administration this March gave states the option of a maximum two-year extension into 2016. Early indications of how many individuals opted to keep those plans have begun to emerge as have signs of the effect on premiums. As with so much else related to the ACA, the results depend on what state is being discussed. Twenty-five states are allowing noncompliant plans to continue through 2015, which creates a continuing impact for insurers attempting to formulate premium levels in 2014, according to data compiled by America's Health Insurance Plans, an insurer trade group. Twenty-one states are taking the full extension option, through 2016, according to AHIP (Tahir, 8/21).

Also in the news, the Denver Post tracks the total number of cancelled health plans in Colorado while the Seattle Times offers reports on how the Washington state exchange is doing, and the CT Mirror checks in on what's ahead in terms of enrollment assistance. 

Denver Post: Colorado Says 2,100 Health Plans Were Canceled In Last Two Months
The Colorado Division of Insurance has reported that there were about 2,100 health-plan cancellations in the state over the past two months, bringing this year's total to more than 6,150. The division reported the figures for June 15-Aug. 15 to Senate Minority Leader Bill Cadman last week. Senate Republicans have requested monthly on the numbers. Since 2013, there have been about 340,000 policy cancelations in Colorado. Many customers received notices last fall as the Affordable Care Act was rolling out (Draper, 8/21).

Seattle Times: Healthplanfinder: 'Moderately Effective,' Could Improve
How does Washington's online exchange marketplace compare with those in other states? As part of an ongoing study, the nonprofit Urban Institute assessed how well state exchanges created under the Affordable Care Act provide the sort of information consumers want to know about insurance plans they're considering buying. The report -; Physician Network Transparency: How Easy Is It for Consumers to Know What They Are Buying? -; gives Washington's wahealthplanfinder.org creditable marks. At the same time, the report notes room for improvement. The report judged Washington's site to be in the "moderately effective" group, which also included Colorado and Oregon. On the lower end of the transparency scale were the District of Columbia and Rhode Island. Top scorers were California, Healthcare.gov, Massachusetts and Minnesota (Marshall and Ostrom, 8/21).

The CT Mirror: Future Of Obamacare Enrollment Assistance Still Being Determined
Eva Bermudez was one of nearly 300 people tasked with helping the uninsured get covered as Obamacare rolled out last fall. Her job might have seemed easy compared to those of her counterparts. An organizer with the union CSEA SEIU Local 2001, Bermudez focused her efforts on union members, many of whom had technological experience, Internet access and the ability to sign up for coverage online or by telephone. Even so, they came to her for help (Becker, 8/21).


http://www.kaiserhealthnews.orgThis article was reprinted from kaiserhealthnews.org with permission from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. Kaiser Health News, an editorially independent news service, is a program of the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan health care policy research organization unaffiliated with Kaiser Permanente.

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